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Lester C. Lamon

The son of Richard Henry Boyd and Hattie Moore, Henry Allen Boyd was born in Grimes County, Texas, on April 15, 1876, and grew up in San Antonio. During the early 1870s his father, a former slave and Texas cowboy, received the call to the ministry and launched a successful career as a minister, church promoter, and entrepreneur. More than any of his eight brothers and sisters, Henry Allen identified with his father's aggressive concern for race achievement and personal initiative. While still in his teens, the younger Boyd attained a clerkship in the San Antonio post office (the first African American to hold such a position), and he held this post until he moved his wife and young daughter to Nashville, Tennessee, just before the turn of the century. Nashville remained Henry Boyd's residence until his death in 1959.

Richard Henry Boyd had become active ...

Article

David Michel

publisher, entrepreneur, and banker, was born to Richard Henry Boyd, a publisher, and the former Harriet Moore in Grimes County, Texas, one of nine children. Henry Allen went to public school in Palestine, Texas, and attended the West Union Baptist Church. The Boyd family later moved to San Antonio and Henry found work at the local postal office. He became the first black to be hired as a postal clerk in San Antonio. He married Lula M. Smith, who bore him a daughter, Katherine. Lula did not live long after her daughter's birth. In 1908 he married again, this time to Georgia Ann Bradford. Around the early 1900s Henry Allen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the request of his father who had preceded him there. R. H. Boyd was making a name for himself in Nashville as founder and secretary treasurer of the National Baptist ...

Article

Frederick V. Mills

Episcopal clergyman, was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, the son of George Freeman Bragg Sr. and Mary Bragg (maiden name unknown). He was two years old when the family moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where he studied at the elementary school and at St. Stephen's Parish and Normal School. His family helped found St. Stephen's Church for Negroes in 1867. At age six he was employed as a valet by John Hampden Chamberlayne, editor of the Petersburg Index. In 1879 he entered a school founded by Major Giles B. Cooke, a former chaplain on Robert E. Lee's staff; the school had become a branch of Virginia Theological Seminary. The next year he was suspended for not being “humble” but was appointed a page in the Virginia legislature by the Readjuster Party. After a severe case of typhoid fever and a period of teaching school in 1885 ...

Article

Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and minister, was born in Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown. For the first twenty-five years of his life Cooper was known as “Notly.” He escaped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1800 and took the name John Smith. Employed at a lumberyard, he married a free black woman and had four children. Around this time Cooper's identity was betrayed by a friend. He was separated from his family and sent to Washington, D.C., to be sold at auction. He managed to escape and, with the help of a friend, return to Philadelphia, where he was reunited with his family. Still in danger of recapture, Cooper concealed himself at the home of a Quaker, where he stayed for a week while his master attempted to locate him.

Cooper fled to New Jersey where he was hired by a farmer His whereabouts were again discovered and Cooper escaped by ...

Article

Meharry H. Lewis

preacher, author, publisher, and church administrator, was born in Vanleer, Tennessee. He was the younger of two sons of David and Mary Lena (Street) Lewis, whose parents were born into slavery. Walter Curtis Lewis was Felix's elder brother, only sibling, and early co-worker. The Lewises initially made their home in Vanleer, Dickson County, Tennessee, the Streets' hometown. Vanleer is located about three miles from Cumberland Furnace, and eight miles from the county seat, Charlotte. Dickson County, and especially Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee, is known historically for its production of iron and iron-related products. Dickson County is also known for the mid-1890s relocation of a social-idealist colony known as the “Ruskinites” into Tennessee City near the city of Dickson, the county's largest metropolitan city. In addition to their other agricultural and industrial pursuits, the group, led by John Wayland operated an extensive printing and publishing business ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

writer, minister, journalist, and editor, Rosemary McNatt was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Nehemiah Bray, a laborer, and Mary Love Bray, a service industry worker. In her critically acclaimed memoir, Unafraid of the Dark (1998), McNatt wrote about her experiences growing up as the oldest of four children born in a family aided by welfare.

Both of her parents had received little formal education; her father hauled junk, worked as a butcher, or peddled food from a lunch wagon. Mary Love Bray worked in Chicago's service industry. McNatt's mother reserved some of the family's welfare money to send McNatt and her siblings to Catholic school. In sixth grade, a teacher noticed her promise, and she went on to attend Chicago's prestigious and highly selective Francis W. Parker School from 1967 to 1972. McNatt won a scholarship to Yale University in 1972 ...

Article

Lois Kerschen

Russell Parrott was prominent in Philadelphia's black circles in the early 1800s. A lay reader at the historically important Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, Parrott became an assistant to the pastor in 1812. Parrot was a close ally of James Forten's, and these two members of the Philadelphia African Institution were both notable activists of their day.

Parrott saw the colonization of America as a desire for gain and believed that this greed had led to the slave trade. Parrott's writings were filled with vivid descriptions and strong phrases that illustrated the conditions of slavery. He decried the emotional scarring that resulted from the brutal capture of Africans and their voyage to America, the tragic separation of families, and the cruelty of the slaveholders. In 1812 in an address at the traditional New Year s Day celebration of the abolition of the slave trade Parrott expressed sympathy for ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

poet, minister, and editor, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, to Adeline Agnes Starr Ferguson Rowe and Solomon D. Rowe, sexton of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 1865–1880. He was descended on his mother's side from Robin Starr, enslaved and brought to Danbury, Connecticut, from Guinea in West Africa in the late 1600s, and on his father's side from grandfather Phillip Rowe, enslaved in Litchfield until the early 1800s (Smith, pp. 37–40).

At the age of seventeen, Rowe obtained an apprenticeship with the weekly Litchfield Enquirer, earning a certificate in the printing trade after three years. Gifted with an inquiring mind, he next began a study of natural history and theology, collecting, identifying, and labeling specimens of minerals, bird eggs, and reptiles.

He married Miranda Jackson, who was born in 1857 to Richard and Mary Ward Jackson of Salisbury, Connecticut, on 8 July 1874 ...